Hey team, for the record, there's no point in leaving the half-insane bastard that just got over nearly dying by himself.
Where he gets wacky ideas.
You never know when he's going to do something very, very stupid.
So who was on the cursed midnight vigil...? Oh, right, August. Don't blame the kid, if you would. It turns out that even half-insane, I put up a very good argument.
"No. Not like this. He'll slaughter you and there where will we be?"
I didn't have a choice. He would've made our lives even more hellish than they already are, and August knew it.
... We all knew it.
You wake up in Seatac.
Montreal. It's a nice city; one of the sick bastard's favourites. I wish Canada didn't bother me so much; it's a nice place, after all, just... bad history. Bad blood.
Back to earth, narrator.
The cafe was small and bustling and unassuming and absolutely lovely with big comfy chairs and large bay windows. The counter was mahogany and perfectly polished but everything was ruined when I saw that head of spiked platinum blonde hair.
"Ohh, Teller, you look like death warmed over~!"
You can hear it in his speech. It's the kind of voice that seems perfectly fine at first until you start to listen. No, not listen, you nitwits. /Listen/.
Then you hear it. That note of depravity, the disgusting leer on every syllable. It's that sort of sound that's worse than the static, ten times worse than anything you could imagine. The urge to run pounds in your ears but that's not an option-
"Please have a seat! Darling, darling, do /tell/ me what happened!"
Disgusting. Disgusting. Disgusting. Everything about this man makes-
made me want to puke.
"Subtle as a flying brick as always, Writer. And as for Teller, you missed him about a few hours ago. Please use my /NAME/."
I'm forced to settle down carefully. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the battlefield. Keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times-
"And here I am."
"Here you are indeed~! I take it you've decided to take me up on my offer?"
I've never heard anything more hilarious in my entire life. The other patrons are starting to look nervous.
"... what? To join you? Not over my dead body, sweetheart. Not in a million years. Not if you crossed all the oceans and wrote a chart-topping love song. There is not one force in the universe that would make me join you again. Threaten my family and I kill you. Threaten my friends and I kill you. Heck, piss me off and I kill you. Really, you're not too good at this, are you?"
"There are a few things I need you to do. Draw Father's attention away from your little family. The lives of the few to save your little family~ More than generous, should I think so myself!"
Oh dear, seems my bullshit alarm has reached critical.
"/And/~! I can keep Father's /influence/ inside of you... at /rest/ for a while. You won't have any more episodes as long as you do as we say."
I lift up my own cup, reach over the table,
(I can't feel the heat anymore, like one of those crappy instant handwarmers. My hands are numb again. But everything is numb these days, it seems...)
and then I calmly poured the seemingly scalding contents all over his lap.
"... anything else?"
His grin falters ever so slightly.
"I suggest you take a look around, /Fitzgerald/."
My smile stays plastered on my face like a Disney attendant and for a second it occurs to me that I might not be able to stop, even if I tried...
The nausea hits me like a ton of bricks and I look at the corner of my eye, try to ride the wave out, and the walls of the cafe seem very, very far away and for one /stupid/ moment I wonder when it became empty. The table is dwarfed by the towering white; blank expanse as far as the eye could see.
I can almost /feel/ my shadow waver, once, twice...
"Oh you son of a /BITCH/!"
It should have been impossible. There was no darkness in this room of white, no shadows or dark corners for which ichor tendrils to form and propegate, but logic seems to have been delegated to a fool's errand. I feel, felt myself collapse, palms barely taking the brunt of the force, and the nausea gets worse, surprise surprise.
"Did you forget, Fitzgerald~? In all your years away? Did you forget what I'm /capable/ of?"
A hard kick driven right into my stomach. You all said that Writer has a talent for that; kicking you while you're down. It's not a talent; it's a godamn gift. He revels in it, basks in it.
Something about that strikes... struck me as hilarious. "Smoke and mirrors, Writer. Go on, then. Fill it with every single nightmare I've ever had; it's nothing that doesn't happen in my own head. You're a cheap imitation; is this one of my own fucking loops? This is pathetic, even from you."
God grant me the wisdom...
"It's not, but considering it's drawn from /you/ it should be familiar~!"
I can feel it now between my fingers; sand.
Tell me; have any of you seen the Leader in the desert?
Because there are only two physical things within there; the sand that surrounds you, embraces you, and the endless canvas of the night sky. Inky blackness all around while the dunes shimmer like waves of silver and tarnish all at once.
You are the only darkness in this place. The only blight; the spot on white, the bit of dirt, the filth, you are a speck within the universe and nothing more. You are insignificant and you will pay.
... it starts slowly, like the climax of a symphony; everything goes quiet, almost silent, and you can hear your own heartbeat, feel your own breathing, and for a second it's hard to tell if you're sleeping or dreaming or if you exist outside of yourself. Cogito Ergo Sum; and it's when you come to this conclusion that you start to notice the change.
Webs or blood and ichor web across the sky, blotting out stars, somehow destroying diamond. The /arch;/ and /reach/ and /stretch/ and for one horrible second it occurs to you; they're alive. Everything is alive. The sand no longer shimmers; it's black now, all, all black because that's all you are, that's all He is. Your infection; His infection; you can see it crest over the dunes and the light that previously bathed everything is absorbed and you feel
because there's no doubt about it anymore; you're going to die.
the silence is roaring in your ears and commands start to whisper in your ears.
Then you see Him.
You wake up in LAX.
I'm vaguely aware of Writer holding me close, shooing off well wishers with genuine looks of concern instead of his fake one. "Ohh, darling, are you alright?" said in a high and melodramatic tone, practically the screech of a soap opera diva. Then he leans in, whispers into my ear... "Imagine this, /Fitzgerald/, every time you close your eyes; every time you drop your guard~!"
Sultry and smooth and spiteful and sneering.
I can feel myself cough weakly, once, twice. People are staring. "Life would be boring otherwise, /sweetie/. Now get out of my face." Try to get up. Stumble. Feel something dribble over your own lip.
I am Jack's failing liver.
He catches me as I fall. "Darling, /please/, don't try moving!" it's clear the hold is to restrain, not to support. Again, that seething whisper into my ear. I snort.
"Are you certain, Spencer Fitzgerald? A few simple tasks, that's all I ask~! I can even promise you nobody will be killed!" a pause. "Nobody of importance, anyways~! And all of this bad nightmares business? That /infection/ slowly eating you from the inside out? Gone, gone, gone~!"
"You know you can't promise anything like that. I'm desperate, Writer; not stupid." A slow, weak laugh. I must be more crazy than I thought.
"So you know what? You can take your deal and shove it. Nice stain, by the way. Don't think it'll come out." I touch my hand to the black dribbling from my mouth, wincing.
"What stain, Fitzgerald~?"
And I have to say, I took great pleasure in smearing the black blood onto his pristine white shirt, rubbing furiously into the fabric.
Writer is fighting to keep his composure.
"I'll take that as a no."
I grin brighter than I have in weeks, finally managing to stumble to my feet. "I'll see you around, Writer, darling. Or not. Let's hope that it's the latter."
He stalks out without another word.
It took a good few minutes for me to get out; to dodge the other patrons and convince them to not call an ambulance despite what I looked like and oh hell they called one anyway.
That was my cue to go offstage.
Every time a foot slammed into the pavement it felt like my head was going to explode, but it was almost a bit of a relief...
Eventually I ducked into an alleyway, where my staples promptly popped open and stained my lovely, if not dishevelled clothing. They're not holding well and I feel like I'm going to hurl, but I'm alive and I just ruined Writer's day.
... Holy crap. It feels damn good to type that.
So I figure I'm going to try pinning myself shut without having anyone notice. It's late and there's not a lot of people around, but you can never be too careful-
Looks like we might have a guest.
Seems like tonight just got a little more interesting.
There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he were sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.